Several ‘red flag’ gun reform bills clear final hurdle in Michigan Senate

By: - April 19, 2023 3:19 pm

On the morning of Feb. 15, 2023, students repainted The Rock at Michigan State University with a memorial to students lost in the mass shooting after a pro-gun message had been painted overnight. | Susan J, Demas

The Democratic-led Michigan Senate on Wednesday teed up a second round of gun reform bills for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to sign, this time passing legislation that would enact so-called “red flag” laws.

Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws can be used to temporarily prohibit people from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. This is done upon request of a court order from family members, law enforcement and other individuals.

Senate Bill 83 and House Bills 4146-4148 passed along party lines in the Senate on Wednesday after passing the House last week. Having already gained passage by the House, the bills will be enrolled by their respective chambers before being presented to Whitmer.

Last week, Whitmer signed four Senate bills and two House bills into law that require safe gun storage and enact universal background checks for all gun sales.

The bills that cleared final passage in the Michigan Senate on Wednesday include:

  • Senate Bill 83, sponsored by state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), would enact the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act — otherwise known as a “red flag” law.
  • House Bill 4146, sponsored by state Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi), would prohibit someone from purchasing new firearms while under an extreme risk protection order.
  • House Bill 4147, sponsored by state Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Twp.), would provide for service of process for extreme risk protection order actions and waive court fees.
  • House Bill 4148, sponsored by state Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit), would enact sentencing guidelines for making a false statement in support of an extreme risk protection order.

“This law will save lives,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement Wednesday. “What is clear, after years of witnessing horrific gun violence across school campuses, places of worship, and elsewhere, is that some people simply should not have firearms.

“And often, whether the need to remove a person’s access to a firearm is acute or enduring, there are egregious and abundant warning signs. This law will allow concerned friends, family, and law enforcement to act in a way that prevents senseless gun violence and deaths in our state.”

Nessel also vowed to “vigorously enforce” the laws and defend them in court if they are challenged.

Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks at a protest with students from Michigan State University and surrounding communities advocating for stricter gun laws at the Michigan Capitol on Feb. 15, 2023, following a mass shooting on MSU’s campus earlier in the week. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

“We all celebrated last week when Gov. Whitmer signed universal background checks and safe storage bills into law, but we knew a piece of the puzzle was still missing — ERPO bills,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of the Lansing-based Progress Michigan.

“Many instances of interpersonal violence, and many suicides, are preceded by warning signs, but the loved ones and community members who observed those signs have been powerless to change that. Extreme risk protection orders will change that, and in other states, this process has been proven to save lives and reduce gun violence.”

Whitmer has been supportive of the gun reform bills and is expected to sign them.


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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.